Our children do grow up, and as they enter their adolescence, the topic of sexual health becomes an important subject for parents. The discussion of sexual health is more important than ever since the onset of COVID-19. The Youth Risk Behavior study conducted a nationwide survey and the results revealed that STDs might be more common than thought among US high school students.
We understand that this discussion can be difficult or uncomfortable for many parents to address with their teens, but as the rates of sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmitted infections continue to rise across the nation, Urgent Care for Children believes that we should inform parents to support the comprehensive health of your developing child.
Basic Facts About STIs
The Top Five Most Frequently Occurring STIs
The most common sexually transmitted infections are human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis. The Centers for Disease Control shared state rankings describing the prevalence of reported cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis, you can view the rankings for the states served by Urgent Care for Children below:
|State Ranking||Chlamydia||Gonorrhea||Syphilis (Primary & Secondary)||Congenital Syphilis|
Further, the instances of these common STIs are spreading particularly fast among those aged 15 – 24. To help stem the rise in these cases, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced a new recommendation this month to screen sexually active teens for STIs annually.
Signs and Symptoms of Common STIs
Chlamydia – Is often called a “silent disease” because many people infected with Chlamydia do not have symptoms. About three-fourths of infected females and nearly half of infected males don’t have symptoms. However, when symptoms are present they can be different for males and females. Females may have the following:
· An abnormal vaginal discharge
· A burning sensation during urination
· Lower abdominal pain
· Lower back pain
· Bleeding between periods
· Painful sexual intercourse
Males may experience:
· An abnormal discharge from the penis
· Itching or burning around the tip of the penis
· A burning sensation while urinating
· Tenderness or pain of the testicles
Both males & females may develop Reiter syndrome with arthritis, burning during urination, and inflammation with redness of the eyes.
Gonorrhea – Is symptom-free when present in females. However, males may show signs of infection:
· A pus-like discharge from the penis
· Pain in the penis
· Burning during urination
In the event a female does show signs of Gonorrhea, her symptoms could include:
· Pain or burning during urination
· Bleeding while having sexual intercourse
· Yellow or bloody discharge from the vagina
Even a symptom-free infection in women can lead to complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which affects the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes and can lead to infertility or ectopic pregnancies. In males, the most common complication is called epididymitis, an inflammation of the coiled tube that runs along the back of the testicles.
Syphilis – In general, the first symptoms of syphilis present three weeks after intercourse. The symptoms are similar in females and males. Such symptoms are; painless sores (chancres) on the skin or the lining of the genitals. The sores will be visible when they’re present on the penis or a woman’s outer genitals, but they can also be hidden from view in a woman’s vagina or cervix or under a male’s foreskin. If left untreated, after about a month or two secondary syphilis can set in. Signs of secondary syphilis infection are:
· A skin rash that can occur anywhere on the body, (usually present on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet)
· Sores in the mouth and on the genitals or anus
· Swollen lymph glands
· Mild fever
· Sore throat
· Joint aches
While the signs of syphilis may come and go, it is important to note that if left untreated the disease may spread throughout the body over time, damaging many organs and causing chronic conditions ranging from heart disorders to neurologic problems and even death in some cases (late syphilis).
Treatment is Available for Most Common STIs
At this time, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are curable when diagnosed and treated early. Early treatment is important because many STI’s can lead to long term incurable disease. Prevention is of great importance, and condoms remain one of the most effective methods of protection against STI’s, including HIV, which at this time remains uncurable though treatment to manage HIV is available.
Where to Find Help, Testing & Treatment for STIs
Urgent Care for Children strongly believes in the American Pediatric Association’s medical home concept. When you visit your child’s primary care provider, ask them for information and guidance regarding their sexual health. You can also find helpful information to have important conversations about sex and sexual health with your child here. UC4C is committed to supporting your child through the continuum of health, as such we have partnered with Visby Medical, to provide FDA-approved, non-invasive, STI rapid testing in many of our clinics. Visby’s industry-leading STI technology delivers results within 30 minutes, and we can provide treatment onsite for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoeae, and Trichomoniasis if needed. The test is available for females ages 14 – 21 in the following UC4C locations: Birmingham, Mobile, Vestavia, Trussville, Tuscaloosa, Madison, Huntsville, and Daphne in Alabama; Memphis and Knoxville in Tennessee; and in New Orleans, Louisiana